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Modalities Used During Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture helps to regulate and calm the nervous system, promoting the body’s self-healing mechanisms.  Solid, hair-thin, single-use and sterile needles are placed at specific acupuncture points to balance deficiencies and excesses along channels of energy in the body. The regulation of these channels can help to restore harmony, and, in so doing, symptoms such as pain, or emotional distress are relieved.  There are twelve primary channels in the body, each corresponding to a different organ system. The liver channel, for example, helps to regulate emotional well-being and deals with the healthy movement of qi throughout the body. When qi is stagnant, pain usually results. The kidney channel relates to the area of the low back, and is often indicated when there is adrenal fatigue. In balancing the energy of Acupuncture channels, harmonious functioning is re-established. 

Moxibustion has been used alongside acupuncture for thousands of years. It is commonly called “moxa”, and is made from the crushed leaves of the aromatic plant, artemesia vulgarisMoxa is placed along acupuncture points and heated to restore warmth and vitality to a channel that is deficient or where there is a cold obstruction (a diagnosis made by your Acupuncturist.) It is also known for it’s ability to support the immune system.  While Acupuncture often restores yin energy, moxa is very warming stimulates the yang energy, making it highly restorative and nourishing.

Cupping therapy has also been used for thousands of years in conjunction with Acupuncture. It is particularly indicated when there is pronounced muscle tension and pain, as a remedy to restore the proper flow of blood and qi (energy which moves with the blood). Cups are typically placed along the back or in other areas with tendon or muscle tightness, such as along the iliotibial (IT) band. The action of cupping is similar to a vacuum on the skin, although it more gentle. The suction action of cupping releases tension in the muscles and fascia, helps to restore the normal flow of blood and qi, and helps to draw out pathogenic factors such as dampness, cold, wind, and heat (all causes for stagnation and pain.) Cupping is also used to aid in recovery during a cold or flu when there is congestion in the lungs.

Gua Sha is the use of a smooth jade tool along areas of muscle tension to release pain caused by stagnant blood. A lubricant is used on the area that is scraped with the gua sha tool. Many patients relate the experience as equal to a deep-tissue massage. Gua sha releases blockages in the qi flow just below the skin and in so doing creates temporary redness called petechiae. This usually lasts a few days. Current research shows that gua sha has an, “anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a treatment.”

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What to Expect During Your Acupuncture Appointment

Your First Visit


In the Five Element Tradition your first visit is referred to as Traditional Diagnosis. We will discuss your goals, your medical and social history.  A physical exam includes taking the pulse (a form of Chinese Medicine diagnosis), looking at the tongue (please avoid brushing your tongue or drinking coffee on the day of your appointment) and abdominal and meridian palpation. This one and a half to two-hour session also includes a first acupuncture treatment. Many people are surprised that the needle sensation is not similar to the needles you experience at your doctors office and is usually painless. Most people find treatment to be very relaxing and often take a 15-20 nap once needles are placed.  Your treatment may include needles on the front and back of the body, depending on what is needed.  First sessions may also include moxa, a restorative herb that is placed on the acupuncture points.  An infrared heat lamp and blue light are also used in the treatment room.    

Ongoing Treatment

Follow up and maintenance treatments are 45-90 minutes, depending on your individual treatment plan. Wellness coaching helps to guide your next steps and help to maintain the benefits of acupuncture treatments. Pulse reading, meridian palpation and other techniques are administered as well. Acupuncture, along with moxa,cupping, and gua sha may be included in your session. 

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